Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mainz, Würzburg, and Mainz again - catching up with the AFS German Interns

Accordian bus!
I know Hauke and Emil as they lived in NZ for a year in 2008-2009 working as interns at the AFS National Office for their German Civilian Service. I landed back at Frankfurt Hann airport on Friday afternoon and caught the bus back to Mainz. Despite Haukes offer to come and meet me at the train station, and despite it being dark and me only having taken 
this tram to the house once during daylight, I had insisted I could catch the tram and find the way myself - luckily I could! We had dinner about 7pm (I wasnt hungry and couldnt eat much) and Hauke went to sleep around 9pm (I wasnt tired and couldnt sleep). 
Roman aquaduct ruins
Around 11pm I got really, really hungry at 2am still couldnt sleep - thanks Spain! Saturday was pretty cruisy, we went for coffee and lunch with some old friends of Hauke from Göttingen who were in town, and then checked out his university - I got to ride on an accordian bus for the first time! Even Haukes embarrassment couldnt dampen my excitement. Haukes university is probably the ugliest I have ever seen, but we made up for that by walking home past some ruins of a old roman aquaduct. 

The rest of Saturday night has become a bit of a blur. Hauke works as a bartender and is currently learning cocktails, so we trotted off to the supermarket in search of spirits and fruitjuice that we could mix. Unfortunately, I think mixed far to many spirits and not enough juice! We had dinner with his flatmates, Raclette, which is a method using a electronic thing with a heated stone on top for cooking meat, and a grill directly underneath where you put the cooked meat with cheese and potato and other stuff to melt. Quite cool, and the drinking continued with the flatmates. We played the same game that got me into trouble in Austria, with the dice and the numbers and me not knowing the rules and therefore constantly losing and having to drink, and at some point tumbled out the door with them into a tram to town. Hauke and I headed to the bar he works in again, and from then onwards the night is a bit messy. I know we got home around 6am, so when I woke up four hours later to catch my train I was still in less than perfect condition. I will spare you all of the details, except to say that I missed my train, puked in places I shouldn't have, was miserable all day, and swear that I will never drink the night before I travel to a new location ever again!

I arrived at Würzburg late and still sick but happy to see Emil! We headed back to his and spent the rest of the evening recuperating, going for a really long walk along the riverside and catching up. Monday morning we headed up to the Festung (Fortress) Marienberg, built in the 700s AD, reconstructed in the 1600s and used as a castle for Prince-Bishops and as a fort. There is a really good view of Würzburg from up there. On the way back Emil introduced me to a kind of pancake (sorry I forgot the word!) for lunch at a cafe on the riverside, and then I headed out to a small town, Bad Kissingen, to catch up with Claire, a French girl who had been in NZ on an AFS 2-month exchange in 2009 and is now doing a full-year exchange in Germany. This was an interesting train trip, as I didn't really know where I had to 
Catching up with Claire Chervin
catch connections from and the local trains don't have english translations like the bigger ones do, and it freaked me out a little to arrive in this tiny station and find Claire wasn't already there, but luckily she was just running late! It was really cool to talk about Germany and Germans with someone else who has an outsiders perspective.

Tuesday morning we headed to the Würzburg Residenz, a palace from the 1700s that is now a UNESCO heritage site. I quite like the marble used in it, and the huge stone foyer with a vaulted ceiling, but it made the place really cold! Emil went off to uni and I wandered around exploring and shopping for awhile, I found a New Zealand shop run by a German woman who hasn't lived in NZ but reckons NZers are much sunnier, upbeat and happy than Germans, 
Würzburg Residenz
and is therefore trying to bring a little of NZ into Germany. I have been hanging out for marmite, so I admit to paying 10euro, or about $20 for a jar of vegemite, the closest she had. I also ordered lunch for the first time by myself, admittedly just by pointing at something on a menu and hoping for the best, but I am still quite impressed with myself! Hand gestures also go a long way!

Wednesday morning we woke up to a little bit of snow! I checked out the Kulturspeicher museum, only the art half was open but I really liked that, all artworks done by people who had come from or lived in Würzburg. The smaller works portraying Würzburg itself impressed me more than some of the big, more famous stuff Ive seen here recently. Würzburg 
houses on the riverside in Würzburg
really is quite pretty, the buildings are different to further north, no framework on the houses, but they are all different colours and I like how the line the river. There are also a huge number of churches here that survived or were rebuilt after the war.

After another successful attempt at ordering my own lunch I said goodbye to Emil and headed back to Mainz. My first train was late, so I missed my connection, and as I was standing there searching for the next one on the board some quite scary-looking Germans actually came up to me and asked if I needed help! Made my day! I headed back to Hauke's to dump my stuff and went out to enjoy the snow some more, walking back into town. Hauke is a big patron of the Irish Pub here, and I wanted to see what he is always talking about, so I killed time waiting for him to 
Apparently 1 doesn't mean first...
finish at uni by sitting there chatting away to the owner. I find it weird now to talk to someone who has English as a first language! We finished off the night by going bowling with some friends of his, again our identical shoe sizes caused much disbelief and later a few laughs. My attempt at bowling was no laughing matter! I can't believe how poorly I did, on our third game I actually sat on 1, i.e. 1 pin for three or four rounds. Hauke reckons my arm physically isn't straight!

Tomorrow I am off to Colonge, hopefully our sobriety tonight will mean I have a much mroe succesful departure from Mainz this time around, and can enjoy my night there before I head into Belgium on Friday.

Anyone who wants to check out the video we made of Hauke skiing, its on facebook here although you might have to be friends with him to see it due to his privacy settings.
Würzburg, Festung Marienberg on the hill

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